One more body recovered from Bheri River; death toll of Soti incident reaches fiveSearch is on for another missing person, police say.
A search team on Thursday recovered the body of the fifth victim of the alleged lynching incident of a Dalit man and his friends in Soti, Rukum (West).
The body of Sandip BK was recovered on the banks of Bheri River near a place called Chhedan in Jajarkot district.
The body was taken to Jajarkot District Hospital for postmortem.
Meanwhile, search parties are still looking for Gobinda Shahi.
Earlier, the search teams had retrieved the bodies of Nabaraj BK, Tikaram Sunar, Lokendra Sunar and Ganesh Budha from the river that borders the districts of Jajarkot and Rukum (West) in Karnali Province.
On May 23, the villagers of Soti in Chaurjahari Municipality, Rukum (West), had chased away Nabaraj BK and 18 of his friends after learning that the group had come to take Nabaraj’s 17-year-old girlfriend.
A day later, the bodies of Nabaraj and Tikaram were recovered in the Bheri river, leading to the reports that they were lynched and thrown into the river.
The survivors of the incident and the families of the victims have claimed that Soti villagers lynched Nabaraj and the others due to casteism.
Nabaraj came from a Dalit family and his girlfriend from the so-called upper caste. Some survivors of the incident have said that they were chased by a mob carrying household tools, knives and sticks. They have also accused the Soti villagers of hurling casteist epithets.
Meanwhile, the people of Churjahari took out a rally on Thursday, demanding action against the guilty and for the deceased to be declared as martyrs.
The locals of Ward No 1, 2 and 3 joined the rally to condemn what they called “senseless murders over a caste issue”. They also demonstrated in front of the municipal office and encircled the area police office in Chaurjahari.
Gita Nepali, Tikaram’s mother, said that her son was murdered and thrown into the river. “Contrary to the rumours that he jumped into the river, my son was killed and then thrown into the river,” she said.
Police on Thursday arrested six more people in connection to the incident.
Eighteen people, including Dambar Bahadur Malla, the ward chairman of Chaurjahari-8, are currently in police custody.
DSP Thag Bahadur KC said the police have secured 10 days custodial remand against the suspects for investigation.
The families of the victims have filed a murder complaint at the District Police Office in Rukum (West) against 20 villagers of Soti.
Malla, the ward chairman, has been accused of informing the villagers about Nabaraj and his friends arriving in the village.
According to Shashiram BK, ward member of Chaurjahari-8, Malla had phoned some villagers and the local police about receiving a text message informing about the arrival of Nabaraj and his friends.
“Malla might have informed the villagers about a group of strangers arriving in the village. He could’ve been able to contain the situation if he had stopped the villagers from attacking the youths,” said Shashiram. “The incident happened as the ward chairman who reached the incident site did not take any initiatives to stop the villagers from attacking the youths. The police also did not do much to stop the villagers.”
The incident has gained national attention and prompted rallies in different parts of the country, calling for an impartial investigation and an end to casteism.
On Wednesday, the National Human Rights Commission issued a statement and directed the government to conduct an in-depth and impartial investigation into the incident and take action against the guilty.
The United Nations in Nepal has also expressed its concern over the killing of the youths in Rukum (West) and has called for a fair probe.